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Ride in the sky

Friday, July 24, 2009

Eye in the sky - A recent trip above the skies of Cherokee in a helicopter provided an opportunity to provide summertime photos of Cherokee as it goes through a typical day. As far as a traffic report, it looks like the north bond lane of Hwy 59 is seeing heavier traffic due to the stoplight being red on Main Street in downtown Cherokee. Photo by Mike Leckband
As the middle of summer arrives, many farmers are thinking about applying herbicide and pesticide to their crops.

First Co-Op of Cherokee handles many of those farmers' needs. First Co-Op recently hired Tom Wolf of T&M Aviation, who runs a certified applicator service out of Abbeville, La. They are currently in the area spraying fungicide on corn and beans.

Whirlybird in Cherokee - Providing a courtesy ride to the Chronicle Times was Tom Sartain of T&M Aviation who has recently been hired by the Cherokee First Co-Op to spray area corn and bean fields. Their main tool to accomplish their work is this refurbished 1971 Bell OH58. Photo by Mike Leckband
When it comes to crop-dusting many people think of a single propeller airplane. But T&M Aviation uses a refurbished 1971 Bell OH58 to get the job done.

The helicopter holds up to 100 gallons in a tank that is located on its belly. They are able to spray a 50-acre area per trip that takes 10 to 15 minuets to empty. They refill the tank on location with a support truck that the helicopter lands on with the support crew on hand to fill the tanks.

Recently the T&M Aviation helicopter arrived at the Cherokee Airport via flat bed truck from Louisiana. The next day the crew of the helicopter prepped the whirlybird by washing and waxing and fueling it. The chopper crew is made up of pilot Tom Sartain, and Mark Cedar and Billy Cedar, drivers, who provide ground support and fuel the helicopter.

Last week, the Chronicle Times received a call from First Co-Op informing us that the chopper was at the Cherokee Airport, wondering if we would be interested in a photo opportunity.

Never one to pass up a chance to go flying, this reporter went to meet up with the crew from T&M Aviation. Not knowing if I would be able to have a chance to get into the helicopter, I introduced myself to the pilot, and asked Sartain what their plans were for that day. He said that they were planning to head to the offices of First Co-Op, just north of Cherokee on Hwy 3. I then asked Sartain if there would be a chance I could tag along to get a few pictures for the paper.

He graciously granted my request and took me above the skies of Cherokee, but only after he and his crew had lunch.

Tom and I left the Cherokee Airport heading our way to the Offices of First Co-Op. The first notable sight was that of Spring Lake Park and the Little Sioux River. We slowly rose higher and higher and began to move to the north. Downtown Cherokee became more prominent as our trip continued, and I grabbed some pictures of some landmarks like the Cherokee Depot and Cherokee City Hall . Downtown quickly vanished, though, and soon we were hovering over Washington High School and George Hicks Field.

We then made a circular turn in which I could clearly see Gillette Park and the Bacon Aquatic Center and headed back toward the north side of town. Looking over the pilot's shoulder, I was able to take a few pictures that feature the Sam Doupe baseball complex, next to the Cherokee Middle School.

As we continued tour flight, I could plainly make out the Cherokee Mental Heath Institute and one other of Cherokee's landmarks, the Cherokee water tower.

We arrived at the offices at First Co-Op and I disembarked. The trip only lasted a few minutes, but the memories of looking at one's hometown from above will last a lifetime.

For more information on T&M Aviation, check out their website at t&maviation.com. Farmers who are interested in their services should contact the Cherokee First Co-Op or Bunkers Feed and Supply in Granville.

For more photos from my flight, see the 'Aerial View of Cherokee' Photo Gallery.

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